Thursday, August 7, 2008

By Request: Whole-wheat Lemonbasil Bread

A few weeks ago, Angie from Three Sisters Organic Farm and Are We There Yet? asked me if I had a recipe for lemon basil bread that I could share. At the time I didn't, but I've been known to rise to the occasion for a food request (ah, that angel food "castle cake" - tip: don't try to frost an angel food cake. Really, try to avoid it. Especially at midnight the night before a nine year old's birthday party).

Part of my insistence on following through with Bread Tuesday on one of the hottest days of the year was experimenting with a bread recipe for Angie, adapted from the amazing Beth Hensperger's Bread Bible. I only have one cookbook dedicated exclusively to bread baking, but, at this point, it has served me well enough to keep it that way. I used her recipe for Basil Bread, and substituted lemon basil and pine nuts (which are optional, but give a great buttery nut crunch), as well as a good amount of lemon zest. The result was a hearty, flavorful, savory bread... so good... hey, will you wait a second while I go grab some right now? Thanks.


Ok, I'm back. (note: this bread really wants to be toasted and dressed in salted butter. I only have unsalted at the moment, and the first bite was a bit uninspiring. Sprinkled a bit of sea salt and WHAM, there's the lemon basil flavor and pine nutty goodness. So salt it, friends.)

Aw, a dough heart.

This dough requires a bit of kneading, and mine was on the sticky side. One of these days I'm going to have to cowboy up and buy a stand mixer. The amount of time I spend whisking and kneading everything by hand really adds up. Anybody have an old one you're not using? I'll be happy to take it off your hands.

Enjoy this bread, it would go really well with a tomato based pasta sauce - basil, tomato, and pine nuts... a holy trinity indeed.

Eat well, and stay cool!

Whole-Wheat Lemon Basil Bread
Adapted from Beth Hensperger's The Bread Bible

Makes two 9-by-5 loaves

1/2 cup warm water (105° to 115°F)
1 tablespoon (1 package) active dry yeast
Pinch of sugar

1 cup warm buttermilk (105° to 115°F)
1 cup warm water (105°to 115°F)
1/4 cup honey
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
5 to 5-1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup minced fresh lemon basiI
1/2 cup pine nuts, chopped
2 tablespoons lemon zest
2-1/2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon dried basil

1. Pour the warm water in a small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast and sugar over the surface of the water. Stir to dissolve and let stand at room temperature until foamy, about 10 minutes.
2. In a large bowl using a whisk, combine the buttermilk and water. Stir in the honey and melted butter. Place 2 cups flour, the basil, zest, nuts, and salt in a large bowl. Add the milk and the yeast mixtures and beat until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, with a wooden spoon until a soft dough that just clears the sides of the bowl is formed.
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until soft, slightly sticky, and very pliable, about 5 minutes, dusting with the flour only 1 tablespoon at a time as needed.
4. Put the dough in a greased deep bowl. Turn the dough once to grease the top and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Don't let this dough rise more than double in volume. Gently deflate the dough and let it rise again, if you have time. It will take only half the time to rise the second time.
5. Gently deflate the dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Grease two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions. Shape each portion into a loaf and put in the pans. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise again until doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes.
6. Brush the loaves with the olive oil and sprinkle them with salt and dried basil.
7. Twenty minutes before baking preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the pans on the rack in the center of the oven and bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until the loaves are brown and sound hollow when tapped with your finger. Transfer the loaves immediately to a cooling rack. Cool completely before slicing.


  1. Thanks for posting this! I've been looking for a good whole wheat bread to try :)

  2. To make bread on a hot summer day: you are a brave woman!! Especially with all that hand kneading...good exercise though, but I'm not a fan of exercise.

    Anyway,another successful experiment on your part; funny how a sprinkle of salt enhances the taste on some things...i used to doubt that theory, but I'm letting myself be convinced now...

    A stand mixer is definitely helpful, though won't do much for your beautifully toned arms... ;) we always have to look at the bright side, no?

  3. not only does this bread look amazing (i'm especially loving the heart!), but it also sounds ridiculously delicious and healthy! thanks for sharing your recipe! :)

  4. Last week I bought of loaf of lemon pugliese bread from a local bakery. It took every ounce of will power I had (and the help of my husband holding me back from the loaf) from eating the whole thing. Now you've gone and given me a recipe for one just like it. You rock!

  5. Hey this must be one tasty bread. Wish i could just take yours, i have a mental block with making my own.

  6. Oh cute to use the name of your blog as the flavours for a bread! It looks great and I love the heart!

  7. Oakley - you are the best!! Thanks so much for taking the time to do this. I'm literally off to the kitchen to start this right now.

    I can't wait to eat it.

    Thanks again! I'm going to link to you from my site and get everyone to give it a try.